Local Current Blog

Interview: André Cymone on his experiences with racism in Minneapolis, and his hope for change

André Cymone near Paisley Park in Chanhassen, 2017. (Nate Ryan/MPR)

“It takes me ten minutes to drive to school, right?” said André Cymone, referring to the approximate amount of time former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin knelt on George Floyd’s neck. “That’s how my kids understand, how I understand it. Ten minutes to get in the car, start to drive, get on the freeway, drive all the way to their school, it takes ten minutes.”

For this week’s episode of the Local Show, host Andrea Swensson has been reaching out to Minnesota musicians to discuss their reactions to George Floyd’s death and the community’s powerful response. Below, watch her full conversation with André Cymone, a singer-songwriter and producer who was also a lifelong friend and early bandmate of Prince.

Cymone remembers living in North Minneapolis as a teenager, experiencing the Civil Rights Movement and the unrest of the 1960s. He talked about how eye-opening it was for Prince to move in with his family, where André and his brother talked to Prince about their encounters with Minneapolis police. Cymone even shared a story about being arrested while riding on a motorcycle with Prince.

“We all want to feel a part of that biking pride, that skiing pride, that ice fishing pride,” said Cymone regarding Minnesota’s whitewashed state pride. “I’m a fisherman. When I come to Minnesota, the first thing I want to do is get on the lake, go fishing, you know, and not have the police boat come over and harass me.”

Cymone also shared his hopes for the future. “I love Minnesota,” he said. “On its best days, it’s really a slice of heaven, you know? On its worst days…it shows, unfortunately, what the history has shown.”